HOME >> Heritage

Lacquer Coffin

Source: hubei.gov.cn

Marquis Yi of the Zeng State was buried within a bronze-framed colored Nanmu wood coffin (including inner and outer coffins), the largest lacquer ware in ancient China unearthed so far weighing as much as 7000 kg. The lacquer work is fully decorated with colored paintings featuring mysterious patterns, which are mostly dragon, snake, bird, animals and gods in various forms totaling to over 900 images. The images are arranged in order and presented in glorious and appealing colors.

The outer coffin of the Marquis Yi is to the left, the inner coffin below.

Lacquered outer coffin

Length: 3.2m, Width: 2.1m, Height: 2.19cm

Lacquered inner coffin

Length: 2.49m, W: 1.27m, H: 1.32m

Below is a detail of the decoration on the inner coffin. In the Chu culture a large number of spiritual powers both benign and malevolent were venerated and feared. These beings were not understood as ancestors, though they do have the power to interfere in human affairs. In representations they frequently take animal and semi-human form.

Below is the cover of a lacquer trunk decorated with 28 lunar mansions (divisions of the sky). A dragon is represented on one end of the lid, a tiger on the other. This is the earliest known celestial map in China.

Related: Tomb of Marquis Yi and Zeng